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The remnants of a heavy wind; and I’m overtaken by starlings

It must have been quite the gale that blustered through the forests near Elk Creek.

I wish I had seen it happen, as I am fascinated by all manner of meteorological spectacles.

Although probably it’s better for me, and in particular for my skull, that both of us missed this particular show. A windstorm in the woods is an event best viewed from the summit of a rocky peak or the middle of a meadow, but these sorts of treeless safe zones aren’t abundant around Elk Creek.

I first saw evidence of the prodigious gusts a few weeks ago. I was hiking the road that climbs from the Elk Creek ford to Old Auburn Reservoir (which these days rarely qualifies as much more than a snowmelt puddle).

In a land of sunshine, there’s no reason to fret about rain

How peculiar this past week has been, bringing such a prolonged patter of rain to the roofs of Baker City.

This is at least a pleasant sound. The soothing rhythm reminds me, when I listen during that peacefully hazy period which precedes sleep, of the trilling of a small stream heard through an open window.

Changes coming to the Herald

Effective June 1, the Baker City Herald will change our publication dates from five days to three days a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Our doors will continue to be open for business five days a week, and we will continue to be a daily news organization, publishing news to the Web every day at www.bakercityherald.com. But we won’t be printing a newspaper on Tuesday or Thursday.

Reducing our publication frequency will not reduce our local news content.

Protecting America's values — and Americans

It bothers me that Americans, acting on behalf of my country and therefore on behalf of me, poured water in some people’s faces to try to convince those people that they were drowning.

It bothers me, but I’m not sure it was a mistake.

My ambivalence stems largely from my inability to indulge in the fantasy that waterboarding, or any of the other unpleasant “interrogation techniques” my country has subjected certain people to over the past several years, happened simply because George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are dullards and bullies.

Oswald West made sure Oregon’s beaches belong to us all

Tom McCall almost certainly would rank as the most beloved of Oregon’s 36 governors were a poll taken today.

But I harbor a special affinity for Oswald West.

He is not so well known as the flamboyant and ever-quotable McCall, who in his most famous pronouncement encouraged people to visit Oregon but admonished them to not even consider moving here.

Wolves’ first foray into Oregon livestock leads to troubling questions

I would like to hear a wolf howl from a dark glen in the deep woods rather than from the stereo speakers in my living room.

But I haven’t thought much about how many lambs or beef calves ought to be sacrificed to make this happen.

Nor have I considered who should suffer so that I might enjoy a brief, shivery thrill while sitting beside a campfire.

O’Reilly has it in for Europe, and Portland goes after a sign

Listened to Bill O’Reilly give Europe a good verbal whipping two nights in a row this week. I was at the same time entertained and dismayed by his treatment of the continent.

I watch at least part of O’Reilly’s program most evenings. In the main I enjoy the show, even when, as happens perhaps a third of the time, I disagree with the host.

O’Reilly lambastes liberals often but he is no kept apologist for the Republican Party. Media pundits sometimes describe O’Reilly as though he were an ideological clone of Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, but I think such comparisons result from shoddy research rather than piercing political insight.

It turns out ticks have their place, including the washing machine

My wife Lisa is friendly, caring and nurturing.

Except with ticks.

Suffice it to say that if Lisa saw a tick drowning (I’m presuming here, as my knowledge of ticks is scant, that ticks can be drowned) she wouldn’t throw it a life preserver.

Well, now that I think about it she might throw a life preserver.

Lots of people are ticked off about taxes, but why waste a bunch of tea?

When I think about the income taxes I pay — and I do so as infrequently as I can manage — I feel a peculiar mixture of patriotism and regret.

On the one hand I know I’m contributing, albeit in a meager way, to the most generous country on earth. I know the modest fruits of my labor help to heal and feed kids who are sick and starving in some wretched place.

On the other hand I’m also paying for manure odor studies and Barney Frank’s salary.

Ponder that for a few seconds and see if you can still smile.

Still and all, my disdain for certain of the federal government’s spending habits is not so great that I think it’s appropriate to compare Barack Obama to King George III.

We have what we need for great schools

The closing of a school is, with rare exceptions, a sad occasion.

This is due, it seems to me, to the unique nature of schools.

No building seems as empty as a shuttered school, for the simple reason that no building seems so full as one occupied by children who are learning to add fractions and to subtract superfluous adverbs from their sentences.

Playgrounds look particularly forlorn when deprived of kids. The sight of a ball field with basepaths overrun by dandelions rather than sneakers is a dismal one indeed.

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